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For questions regarding acoustic guitars please visit the official Washburn forums and ask questions there, as the members are very knowledgeable regarding the Washburn acoustics.

For estimate appriasal and values, please go to the BlueBook Official Site. Many of my spec descriptions comes their site as well as Washburn, but I do not list estimated value. Check out their electric database as well. An online subscription is not expensive and it has loads of interesting information.

Wiring Diagrams

Jim Smith Collection

















The first Washburn guitars were produced in the 1880s, however the actual beginning date is a little vague. Washburn dates the beginning of the company to 1883, which is indicated in a 1887 patent application. The first catalog featuring Lyon & Healey guitars was issued in 1885. The first Washburn guitar catalog was produced in 1889.

Like many companies that produced guitars early on, they used a numbering system that indicated the body style, size, and configuration. Washburn utilized a few different numbering schemes over the early years. The earliest guitars used a three-digit numbering system. The first number indicated the size (1 Standard, 2 Concert, 3 Grand Concert, and 4 Auditorium). The second number was always zero. The last number indicated the level of intricacy (ranged 1 through 8). A model 503 Contra Bass Guitar was also produced early on. These early guitars all featured a spruce top, mahogany or spruce necks, Brazilian rosewood back and sides, and ebony fingerboard/bridge.

Circa 1892, a fancier style 9 was introduced that featured pearl side stripes, ornate fingerboard inlay, and multi-colored inlays around the edge.

In the mid-1890s, Washburn changed their numbering slightly. The first and last digits stayed the same, but the second number became one less than the last digit. This did not apply to the style 8 or 9 where the second and third numbers were the same. For example, 345, 167, 388, 299. The style 8 and 9 also were overhauled.

1905 signaled a numbering change again, and this one also followed a scheme made popular by many companies. The first number was the size, and the second number was the price of the guitar at the time.The beginner model was the 115 ($15) and the high-end model was the 380 ($380). Models around this time include the 115, 320, 125 (122), 217, 227 (225), 330 (333), 135 (132), 237 (235), 340, 150, 252, 355, 388, 435, and the 3/4 24. Many of these models are the same as they never had model names and they were changed between years when the prices on the guitar changed. A model 3150 was introduced in 1912 and cost almost twice the previous high-end model 380.

The Lakeside Jumbo Size guitar was also introduced in 1912. The Lakeside Jumbo has measurements of the modern day dreadnought, thus making Washburn the first guitar company to produce a dreadnought (however, there are people that would disagree). Martin's D-1 didn't come out until 1931, and Ditson models weren't released until 1917. This model was produced from 1912 until the mid 1920s.

After WWI, a new line of guitars came out. Washburn realized it was near impossible to keep the price of guitars the same over a number of years so they tried a new way of numbering. The first two digits indicated the size (21 Standard, 22 Concert, 23 Grand Concert, and 24 Auditorium, and the second two indicated the style. Models included the 2123, 2128, 2135, 2146, 2164, 2231, 2238, 2250, 2270, 2333, 2342, 2354, 2375, 2444, 3136, and 3148. For a brief period in the early 1920s, the guitars were lettered A ($100) through G ($15).

In the mid-1920s, Washburn introduced the numbering system that would take them to the end in the mid-1940s. This system covered all lines of stringed instruments. A four digit number was applied to each instrument and sometimes a name accompanied it. The first two digits indicated the type of instrument: 51 for banjos, 52 for guitars, and 53 for mandolins/ukuleles. The last two numbers indicated the style. Keep in mind that most of these guitars were produced during the depression and many high-end instruments were discontinued and the rest of the line was thinned out immensely. The first guitars were the 5200 Inspiration, 5201 Classic, 5202 Aristocrat, and 5203 Deluxe. These were all in concert body styles and were available as a grand concert in models 5235, 5236, 5237, and 5238 respectively. The Aristocrat was also offered as an auditorium model 5239.

Steel string guitars were introduced around 1930. The first guitar was the 5234 Deluxe. The 5256 Solo replaced the Aristocrat, and the 5257 Solo replaced the Deluxe. The 5257 1/2, which was a fancier version of the 5257, was later changed to the 5249 Solo Deluxe. Other models include the 5241 Super Auditorium Classic and the 5244 Extra Super Auditorium Inspiration (similar to an SJ200).

Archtop models appeared in the early to mid-1930s. Models include the 5250 Archtop Collegian, 5255 Archtop Superb, 5258 Archtop Deluxe, 5259 Archtop Super Deluxe, 5242 Collegian Super Auditorium, 5248 Superb Extra Super Auditorium, and 5243 Aristocrat Super Auditorium.

Since there are so many models and variations, it does not make sense to list them all individually. Also, there is not much standard pricing on a lot of these instruments. However, prices can generally be found by the model. Generally, the higher the last one or two digits on the guitar, the more features and more ornate the guitar is. Many of these instruments are in very poor condition and they do not have much value to start with anyway.


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